FOOTBALL LEAGUE DIVISION 1B
Michael McMullan reports from Foreglen
Claudy came from four points down to salvage a draw at Foreglen in a low-scoring, yet enthralling, game on Friday night.
Foreglen played with 14 men for the last 41 minutes, following Conrad Sheerin’s dismissal on a second booking.
They also lost Mark McCormick in the 13th minute to a questionable black card for high tackle on Fionain Smyth.
While the game threatened to spill over at times, it had the expected competitive edge that attracted a sizeable crowd.
It was a great advertisement for having a standalone fixture every weekend. Something to attract gaels from other clubs.
Referee Kieran O’Connor, while frustrating both teams with a raft of cards, did well to keep a lid on a game that gave a taster for a potential championship meeting further down the tracks.
Foreglen led by three points but Kieran Reilly saved Kevin Dunne’s 46th minute shot. Such was the angle that a point would’ve done but squaring the ball to Caolan O’Connor would almost certainly have engineered a clinching goal.
Reilly then denied Cahir O’Connor and later on Fionain Smyth was on hand to make two further interventions to prevent potential goal chances.
Foreglen’s guile at controlling the game looked to have been enough. The slowed the game down when they needed to. Despite having only 14 men, they looked the more composed side.
Claudy were wasteful and at times rash, but managed to stay in the game. Martin Donaghy and Eoin McGahon were guilty of late wides, before Aaron Donaghy’s 57th minute point tied the game.
Emmett McKeever’s men will rue not fully utilising their extra man but looked like the likely winners in the closing stages.
Referee O’Connor, in the 62nd minute, gestured two further minutes but only played one before blowing his final whistle after 63 minutes.
Both teams, but particularly Claudy, were incensed as they were in the ascendency.
It brought a hard-fought game to an end. Every ball was contested as if a championship medal depended on it.
Yet there was respect as both teams trotted off the pitch. The analysis and what-ifs had already began, to the level that a draw always brings. Especially in a derby.
HARD TO CALL
Pre-game, the talk was of Claudy’s dismantling of Kilrea but they were never going to get the same freedom to rattle home six goals.
Like he did against Kilrea, Darrell Devine pulled deep, where he was followed by Conrad Sheerin. Inside it was the Duffys versus the Kerrigans. Shane on Aaron and Ruairi on Shea.
Neither team played with a sweeper. Oisin Duffy and Mark McCormick, before he was received his marching orders, took turns to filter back. Foreglen’s secret was a huge work ethic in the middle third.
With the Claudy attack living off scraps, they went 18 minutes without a score in the first-half and 23 scoreless minutes after the break. This was the telling factor from the game.
Yes, they were a man short, but Foreglen will be disappointed at not pushing on and could’ve lost out.
Ciaran McFeely stepped up his game following McCormick’s dismissal. His turnover and shuddering challenge on Fionain Smyth early in the second-half energised the home crowd.
Martin Donaghy did likewise in the early exchanges when sprung from the bench.
Both goalkeepers had excellent games. Tiernan Burke’s use of Foreglen’s wide men on kick-outs was a factor. From his one fluffed kick-out, he saved from Aaron Kerrigan with a routine save and was well positioned to deny his brother Shea seconds later.
His opposite number Kieran Reilly denied both Kevin Dunne and Cahir O’Connor, while plucking a dangerous dropping ball in the first-half and shipping a late James O’Kane shoulder for his troubles. He found a blue jersey with all of his first six kick-outs.
THREE POINT LEAD
Paddy Hargan passed to Shea Kerrigan for the game’s opening score, before Foreglen went into a three point lead.
Kevin O’Connor, who became a father for the fourth time earlier in the day, was twice on target from frees with his ever-reliable right foot.
Then when Blaine Carlin’s tame goal attempt was saved by goalkeeper Burke, the home side went on the attack. James O’Kane’s pass was won by Cahir O’Connor who fired over the bar after turning inside Ryan Cunning, who came in as an eighth minute replacement for Ross Stevenson.
A third O’Connor free had Foreglen in control before Armstrong stuck twice in as many minutes for Claudy. The blue wave continued with Aaron Kerrigan curling over an equaliser with his less preferred left foot.
Two minutes after picking up a 22nd minute booking, Conrad Sheerin became embroiled in a challenge with Conor Johnston. Sheerin threw the ball at Johnson and was sent to the line after a second and needless yellow card.
Instead of inspiring Claudy, it was Foreglen who led by two at the break thanks to Eoghan Duffy’s wonder point.
Kevin O’Connor stretched the gap to three but Oran Armstrong and Odhran McCloskey squandered chances to get Claudy back into the game.
In the 45th minute, following a stoppage for an injury, Kevin O’Connor’s quickly taken free caught Claudy’s defence out of position. He found Kevin Dunne in space but rather than squaring to Caolan O’Connor for an almost certain goal, Dunne went for this shot himself, only to be denied by Reilly who had his angles judged to perfection.
The Claudy netminder was again called into action shortly after to parry Cahir O’Connor’s chance but when Kevin Dunne dissected the posts from the ‘45’, Foreglen’s four points lead was significant.
A 49th minute free, for a foul by James O’Kane, saw Aaron Kerrigan grab Claudy’s first point in 23 minutes.
A soft free for an innocuous challenge on Conor Gormley saw Martin Donaghy cut the margin to just two points.
Claudy looked disjointed and devoid of any incisive play that would provide the goal they appeared to need. It didn’t look like they’d save the game with points.
Eoin McGahon and Martin Donaghy hit wides in the closing stages but Paddy Hargan’s long-range effort cut the gap to one, before Aaron Donaghy sealed the draw with a sweet strike from distance.
Foreglen: Tiernan Burke, Ruairi Duffy, Shane Duffy, Conrad Sheerin, Sean O’Connor, Oisin Duffy, James O’Kane, Mark McCormick, Ciaran McFeely, Eoghan Duffy (0-1), Kevin Dunne (0-1 ‘45’), Liam O’Hara, Caolan O’Connor, Kevin O’Connor (0-5f), Cahir O’Connor (0-1).
Subs: Niall McConway for M McCormick (BC 15), Eunan McFeely for L O’Hara (52), Sean Morohan for K Dunne (52).
Black card: M McCormick (13).
Yellow cards: R Duffy (16), E Duffy (16), C Sheerin (22, 24).
Red card: C Sheerin (24).
Claudy: Kieran Reilly, Ross Stevenson, Fionain Smyth, Jamie Brown, Blaine Carlin, Conor Johnston, Aaron Donaghy (0-1), Shane McGahon, Eoin McGahon, Paddy Hargan (0-1), Odhran McCloskey, Oran Armstrong (0-2), Darrell Devine, Aaron Kerrigan (0-2, 1f), Shea Kerrigan (0-1).
Sub: Ryan Cunning for R Stevenson (8), Martin Donaghy (0-1f) for O McCloskey (37), Conor Gormley for O Armstrong (44).
Yellow cards: O Armstrong (16), J Brown (16), A Donaghy (41), M Donaghy (60), D Devine (62).
Ref: Kieran O’Connor (Slaughtmanus).
MAN OF THE MATCH – Cahir O’Connor
In a game where there wasn’t a standout player, Cahir O’Connor was perhaps the most exciting on view. His energy and varied runs stretched Claudy’s defence, with Ross Stevenson called ashore after eight minutes. Had he been more selfish late and not elected to pass, he could’ve landed a Foreglen winner.
SCORE OF THE GAME – Duffy point
In the second minute of first-half stoppage time, Ciaran McFeely’s slightly overcooked fistpass had Eoghan Duffy stretching. It placed Duffy close to the sideline and out of danger. That was before he ducked inside Aaron Donaghy and floated a sweet effort into the teeth of a cross-field breeze. A magical strike, off the outside of the boot, which floated perfectly between the posts.
TURNING POINT – Reilly saves
Foreglen had only 14 men but led by three points midway through the second-half and were well worthy of it. Reilly denied Kevin Dunne at the near post. Seconds later Oisin Duffy’s pass unlocked the Claudy defence but Cahir O’Connor’s shot was brilliant parried by the Claudy ‘keeper. If either had went in, it would have been curtains for the visitors.
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